PGM Pro 601 dress form review – Introducing Penelope

 Video review of the PGM Pro 601 ladies dress form

I want to introduce you to my newest best friend. This is Penelope.  Penelope started out life as a PGM Pro 601 Dress Form, but she is soon destined to become me.  I'm sure the poor girl has mixed feelings about this.  At the moment, she is young, firm, perky even, with her high bust, slim hips and pert rounded behind.  But soon she is to gain 20 years, about 20 pounds and loose that hourglass figure.  It happens to us all I told her, but I swear I could hear her quietly sobbing…

I first came across Penelope when I started my research into a dress form.  Do you remember that I even tried to make my own?  Initial results in my Duct Tape Dress Form were great, but over enthusiastic filling with expanding foam resulted in a grotesque that simply sat next to the road scaring tourists until she was collected and taken to a special new home by the bin men.

Duct tape dress form - the finished body double. So Sew Easy

Penelope's predecessor

So I'm no stranger to the budget option. I read plenty of reviews about the adjustable dress forms and I always seemed to be between sizes, or read that having to expand one part so much further than others didn't quite work out right.  Many sewers complained that never seemed to stay set, were flimsy, broke easily etc.  So I decided to jump in with both feet and go with quality.  I am SO glad that I did.  She is quite simply the nicest thing I have ever owned.


When I opened the box, I was just blown away.  She is so very well made, so precise, so perfect. Everything I wanted.  These are some of the features:

  • Heavy duty traditional cast iron base with 4 wheels or castors
  • Natural body shaped with shaped buttock
  • Pinnable
  • With collapsible shoulders
  • 100% linen cover
  • With bump-out side seams to enable you feel them when draping with fabric
  • Easily pivot or adjust the height by stepping on a foot pedal, then set it solidly to match your own for hemming etc.

  • Very quick and easy to assemble.

PGM Pro 601 dress form - review and video from So Sew Easy

PGM Pro 601 Dress Form – Video Review

I recorded a video of me and Penelope.  Just so you can see her in real life.

I feel a bit embarrassed watching it back because I just keep repeating over and over again – very high quality. Truth is, I knew I was ordering high quality but when it came, I was still amazed and delighted how perfect and wonderful she is.  And I was so excited but trying to be cool and pretend I wasn't feeling all girly and giggly about it.  You certainly won't be disappointed if you choose to get one of these for yourself.

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In fact, I was so impressed and delighted that I contacted PGM and asked if I could recommend their dress forms to my readers, AND give you a discount.  I'm pleased to say the lovely people at PGM were happy to say ‘yes of course'. So you'll now find Penelope and her sisters listed in the So Sew Easy Store.

Have you visited the new store pages?  I did some work on the store in December to make it look a bit more attractive and I added in some new features.  So now the store includes links to some of my favorite sewing supplies, books, machines etc on Amazon, as well as sewing supplies I recommend from other online retailers, my own sewing patterns, and links through to some of the sewing courses I recommend on Craftsy.

Penelope, the 601 model is available, along with her sister the 602 model.  While the 601 has the shaped behind, the 602 is a little simpler and has a flat hip and there is also a 602b which is the same but without the collapsible shoulders.  With the 602b you still get that same amazing quality, but with the flat hip and fixed shoulders its also available at an amazing price too.  You can find them all listed in the So Sew Easy Store.

PGM Pro dress forms (prices starting at $179.00):

601 – shaped behind (sz 2-12)

601L – curvy sizes (sz 16-26)

602 – flat hip (sz 4- 12)

Padding the Dress Form

Penelope needs to put on a bit of weight and I'll be doing this with the Body Wrap and Padding Kit from Fabulous Fit.  I'll show you the kit I got in the next post in the ‘Penelope' series.  If you got some Christmas money to spend, why not invest in your sewing this year and get a dress form, and follow along as we can customise them together.


[Update – you can also now learn more about how to customise your dress form for the perfect fit in a new Craftsy class – Fitting Essentials: Customize Your Dress Form]

Pad a dress form

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43 Responses to PGM Pro 601 dress form review – Introducing Penelope

  1. Katarina says:

    I’m doing my due diligence and research and am really impressed with everything I’ve read about the 601. I know​ this article is years old, but if anyone is reading this, could you tell me if this model allows for the addition of the full arms (future purchase)? It’s a magnetic thing, right? Thank you!!

  2. Denise says:

    Hi Deby, Your dress form looks so lovely. I really would love to get one. I live in the London UK and do you know whether So Sew Easy ship internationally? I hope so, as the dress form here are expensive and more often than not, with no collapsable shoulders.

  3. M. Inez says:

    Deby I am looking into getting a dress form and am a little stumped on what size to order. I’ll tell you what I’m thinking and you tell me if I’m way off LOL.

    My bust/waist/hip measurements put me at a size 12 but my underbust puts me at a size 8. I’m thinking I should buy the 8 and pad it with the Fabulous Fit system. What are your thoughts?

    • Deby Coles says:

      Ah yes, if you went for the size 12, then it would be too big in that area and wouldn’t represent you properly when fitting. Yes, you should go for the smaller size and use padding, either with the Fab Ft kit or some big pieces of batting, or a combination of the both. I’ve also seen people get good results for the bust by fitting a well-fitting bra in their size and padding it to get the shape right. Hope it works out for you. My Penelope gets very well used.

  4. Debbeg says:

    Your post is a great find. I signed up for the Sew the Perfect Fit course through your site, and once I started looking at it, realized, I could never do this by myself! I need a dress form. But what to buy? Then I thought, I bet So Sew Easy will have a post on this. And here it is! I am a bit nervous about spending so much and having to craft a mini me. I had thought I would go to Joanns and buy one, but it appears the measurements of the dial-type forms are not going to work for me as my bust is a medium and my waist is not. That is my main problem with all the clothes I am trying to make. If and when I do buy, I will certainly buy from your store. Thanks again for all your insight. Debbe

    • Deby Coles says:

      Thanks Debbe, you don’t see Penelope on the site very often but she works hard in the background, especially as a pattern designing tool. I couldn’t be without her.

  5. Cecile Barton says:

    I bought the full body with legs PGM dress form that hangs from a stand and sadly she fell to the floor and the hanging pole snapped off. I never used it! Just 3 times to just hang a garment on it. PGM wants me to pay to ship it back and they can repair it (not in the same way as manufactured) and then I have to pay again for shipping. The cost of shipping both ways will be around $300. – I paid $649 for form. Anyone hear of someone who may have had this problem and found a way to fix it themselves. Screw at end of hanging pole broke off inside receiving pole that is inside of form that pokes out the top at neck. I feel like I’ve lost a friend 🙁 I hope she can be fixed!

    • Deby Coles says:

      It sounds like you might need a weld. Next time you are out and about, try taking her into a local engineering or welding company. You might be surprised that they won’t charge very much. Of course it depends on where the break is. If she has to be dismantled then that would best be carried out by the manufacturer. What bad luck!

      • Cecile Barton says:

        Deby, That’s what I did. I took it to a welder – he tried to get the broken screw out of the receiving pole, but it looks like he is going to do some kind of welding to put the hanging pole back on. I’m pretty sure it will be OK. Just waiting to hear from him when it’s finished.

  6. kelly richardson says:

    it’s always interesting match a voice to the face! I read your bio but in my head when i read your posts you did not have an accent lol….anywhoo thanks for the vid…i love the way penelope looks and I can’t wait to replace my adjustable with one of her sisters. Is the botttom cage removable? if not, how would you do pants?

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Kelly. The sort of regular domestic dress forms aren’t really intended for fitting pants because they only have an enclosed hip and thigh area, no split in the middle like a real person. You can buy a special pants form which is just the bottom half including legs, which hangs from the center so both legs are free. Or a full body form that hangs including legs. Here is a link, they are usually much more expensive because there is less demand I suppose. And from the waist down, a ladies shape is so unique to all of us, the way our pants fit is so different, that I guess for the best accuracy and comfort, fitting directly on the person is preferable.

    • Marlette Louisin says:

      You would be much better off finding a dressmaker who is willing to help you make a sloper (custom fit muslin pattern). Once you get that made you can make your pants in any fabric/ style!

      Also, there are a couple of classes on Craftsy that do fitting pants. One on my list is jeans, as they are a bit different fit that traditional pants.

      I’m a certified pattern fitter, having taken the course from Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns. I was doing classes on fitting and carried her patterns but, I’m not very good at finding places that would be willing to allow me to teach a seminar or series of classes without wanting 50% of the profit!

      I didn’t want strangers coming to my home so I don’t teach. 🙁
      If you’d like to come to NE Ohio, I’ll help you! 😉

  7. Grace Ng says:

    thank you for the intro to Penelope. I was wondering if you could give me some tips on how to choose the right size of dress form? Typically I am a size 0 when I shop at retail stores but my measurements are closer to a size 6 on a dress form. Should I just go with the size 6? I also went to the link because I wanted to call a number to get some help on this but there does not seem to be any contact numbers to call. Thank you so much!

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Grace. Sizing is only a number, and often sewing patterns don’t correspond to the size of RTW clothing you would buy in a store – every company uses a slightly different system. For the dress form, you really need to start with your main horizontal measurements as you would for a pattern. Bust, waist and hips. Find each one of these on the sizing chart. Then look at the SMALLEST size that matches one of your measurements. For me, it was the bust. My waist and hips were a couple of sizes larger. Remember that you can always easily ADD to the form, but you can’t take away. So buy according to your smallest measurement, and then add the padding to the areas that you need to increase in size. PGM do have a Toll Free number you can call for advice on selecting your size at 1-888-818-1991. I hope this helps.

  8. Leslie says:

    Fantastic review! I’ve wondered about this brand of dressforms and now it’s definitely on my wishlist!

  9. Chelin Fusco says:

    Oh, I wish I was 20 years younger! I enjoyed the video and look forward to the fitting one. I’m currently ill, but once I’m able to do the things I love, I will have so many projects to choose from. I’m subscribed to Craftsy but I have not done anything from the classes I purchased. This dress form is now on my wish list.
    You are a lovely lady. Thank you for everything you do. PS: Isn’t Debbie Andrews adorable? I loved her post and your reaction to it.. 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for the review. I have seen these dress forms and now I knwo for sure that they are fabulous. Hugs, Beverly

  11. Willit Neverend says:

    One day I would love to have a Penelope of my own. She would need a lot of padding, though. BTW, looking at you an looking at Penelope, it doesn’t look like you have to change her at all, it looks just like your shape.

    • Deby Coles says:

      I only wish she didn’t need so much padding and I didn’t HAVE as much padding! Time will tell when we compare our measurements and see how many of the foamy pads I need. Each one represents a whole year of overindulgence. Sigh.

  12. Deb says:

    Your new series on dress forms is brilliant. I had searched many times for an explanation on the many types and features of forms and found that the sewing industry is seriously devoid of this topic. I ended up purchasing an adjustable form. Problem is that as you turn the knobs to make the form larger, you then create air space which ends up becoming areas where pinning is impossible (example: side seams). I wish that I was informed about this before purchasing but I just never realized. I was just thinking that it was easy to adjust. Thank you so much, Deby! I’m buying my own Penelope!

  13. Patty Deffenbaugh-Karber says:

    I’m up to the nose in bridal and homecomeing alterations this week I’m still considered an a apprentice so I work at her home then will come home to sew at mine. I have a new sewing maching a Janome 12000 that hat occupies the kitsken table . I’ll. Get my measurenents tomorrow

  14. Mimi says:

    Very nice video. I have a “minnie-me” as well…who I’ve named Mryna and was looking at the Fabulous Fit kit and was hoping to maybe see it under the tree for Christmas but no such luck. Looking forward to your fitting your form with this kit. Will be purchasing one soon so this should be very helpful to watch your video on the fitting of Penelope.

  15. Patty Deffenbaugh-Karber says:

    My problem is opposite I’m so short waisted I go from oversized bust to waist in a hurry. One of my new project is to come up with a western style riding skirt. If I take one piece of a pattern slope it differently and pleat at sides and back and front is this still somrone elses design?. I have to add belt loops. Each would be custom with wearer. Have fabric for prototype but I’m the guineapig.

  16. PDXSewista says:

    I have wanted one for an age, but haven’t splurged. None of them change torso length. I am at least 3″ longer in the torso than the big 4 patterns so I’m not quite sure how a standard dressform would work for me. If the dressform is also 3″ shorter in the torso, it seems like it would just be ‘helping’ me make more things that don’t fit. I can do that on my own! 🙂

    I did finally find one that does a vertical adjustment between the bust and waist on a facebook group I’m in. I like it, but it isn’t really pinnable, and I need to pad it out a bit in various places to get it closer to my measurements. I was thinking of using Kenneth King’s instructions for a zip-on form cover to make it both ‘me’ AND pinnable. Hopefully that will work.

    • Deby Coles says:

      I have a similar problem, my waist is also lower, so I always have to lengthen my patterns. It will be interesting to see if I am able to replicate this on Penelope. Otherwise, you are right, we don’t need any help in getting a poor fit! I’ve actually not tried yet, but I’m confident because I have to make a lot of waist and below the waist adjustment, that by placing the padding in the right places, I can (hopefully) make it work.

  17. ROBIN says:

    Deby, I love your Penelope. IF I were more into making clothing, I would definitely get one. But until that day… I did send the information to my daughter though. Thank you for the video. You did great, and it answered all of my questions.

  18. LuLu says:

    I’ve been thinking of buying one for years, but they are so expensive, I could never find one I thought would be shaped like me. Maybe , maybe, Penelope is the answer! I have several issues that will need to be addressed making her my shape!

    • Deby Coles says:

      Do follow along and see what you think LuLu. In the next video I’m looking at the Fabulous Fit padding kit and everything that contains, before giving it a go in the third post trying to get a good replica.

  19. That's Sew Kathy says:

    Maybe this will give me the incentive to sell all the stuff I have been meaning to sell on eBay! Buying a “Penelope” is a great idea to save the proceeds for!

  20. Debbie Andrews says:

    I, too, had my own duct tape double that was a huge disappointment, and then I found one of those old adjustable cage type ones that you put on and push it in towards your body until it’s your exact replica. That would’ve been really good, except I did that while I was alone and got stuck in it for several hours. My son ended up being my rescuer…lol.

    Then I bought the adjustable body double which was a real hassle. At the last, I ended up with a fantastic dress form from a well known ladies dress shop who replaced their old ones with new ones. Oh happy day for me! She looks a lot like your Penelope. And since I didn’t know a thing about the padding kits, I improvised with quilt batting, bra inserts, and shoulder pads.

    Thanks for the post, it has some much needed humor and inspiration.


    • Deby Coles says:

      Oh no, I nearly spat out my coffee when you said how you were stuck inside your dress form. Hilarious. Sorry to laugh!

      • Debbie Andrews says:

        Lol, I laugh about it now. You should’ve seen the look on my son’s face when he saw me…(0; and I’m really glad he didn’t leave me that way.

        I’m really looking forward to seeing how you make the adjustments to your form.


        • Karen Derbes says:

          I am looking forward to that as well. I recently purchased the same dress form and love it, but know that there are adjustments to be made if I am to utilize it fully for the purpose it is intended. I, too was excited the day I brought mine home. It was something I have always wanted, and it is a fabulous addition to my sewing room 🙂

    • ROBIN says:

      Debbie, your story is hilarious! Glad you found a good one.

  21. Becky R says:

    Very nice! I just bought a dress form at the thrift shop. They were using it as a mannequin and weren’t even going to sell it. It’s been waiting in my car because my sewing room is under contruction. It’s somehow adjustable — I’ll need to figure that out. Some day when I can actually wear the things I sew, I’ll need to invest in one of Penelope’s sisters.

  22. Katy says:

    I LOVE this! What is the purpose of the collapsible shoulders? Every extra penny I get I’ve been saving for fabric because I have decided I am going to have clothes that fit me and are comfortable. So, I have fabric-now I think I need to save for one of these.

    • Katy says:

      I just watched the video and now I know what the purpose of the collapsible shoulders is 🙂

    • Deby Coles says:

      The shoulders narrow in like that so that if you have a close fitting garment in a non-stretch, without a zipper for example, it just makes it easier to get it on and off. Where you would naturally narrow your shoulders when trying on a dress for example, this is an option on these dress forms.

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